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Finding the best of Bodega Bay

GETTING THERE

From LAX, nonstop service to San Francisco is offered on American and United and direct service (stop, no change of planes) is available on America West. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $163. From LAX to Oakland, service is offered on Southwest and United. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $181.

From there, you can head up U.S. 101 to Santa Rosa (about one hour) or take the Stinson Beach turnoff and drive along the winding, scenic coastal route to Bodega Bay (about 2 1/2 hours).

WHERE TO STAY

Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa, 103 Highway 1; (707) 875-3525, fax (707) 875-2428, www.bodegabaylodge.com. Large, tastefully furnished rooms, some with fireplaces, in two-story wood-shingled buildings overlooking the water. Pool and spa, superb restaurant, inviting public rooms, friendly staff. All rooms nonsmoking. Doubles $235-$270 (weekends), with discounts of up to 30% through February; continental breakfast included Monday-Friday through February. Spa, golf packages.

The Inn at the Tides, 800 Highway 1; (800) 541-7788 or (707) 875-2751, fax (707) 875-2669. Attractive rooms in an enclave of architecturally pleasing low-rises on a sloping, nicely landscaped site on east side of highway overlooking the bay. Some rooms with fireplaces; pool, hot tub, sauna and fitness center. Bay View Restaurant open Wednesday through Sunday (dinner only). Tides Wharf Restaurant across highway is under the same ownership. Doubles $159-$249.

Branscomb's Bodega Bay Inn, 1588 Eastshore Road; (888) 875-8733, (707) 875-3388, fax (707) 875-2905, www.bodegabayinn.com. Just off Highway 1 on road to Porto Bodega. Five cozy guest rooms in family-owned inn filled with original art. Complimentary continental breakfast and 24-hour snack bar. Family-owned inn with homelike ambience. All rooms nonsmoking. Winter rates: Doubles $89-$150 with continental breakfast.

Chanslor Guest Ranch, 2660 Highway 1; (707) 875-2721, www.chanslorranch.com. B&B on a 380-acre horse ranch a mile north of Bodega Bay. Four guest rooms and a four-bunk room, all with baths; on April 1 the ranch is scheduled to open two suites with kitchenettes, each accommodating up to four people. On-site stables offer guided beach or ranch horseback rides. Winter rates: Doubles $110-$135 (weekends), bunk room $80-$90, suites $120-$140.

WHERE TO EAT

The Duck Club at Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa; (707) 875-3525, fax (707) 875-2827, www.bodegabaylodge.com. Fine California-French cuisine, paired with Sonoma County wines. Candlelight, crisp linens and a warming fire in a waterfront setting. Dinner entrees $17-$28.

Sandpiper, 1410 Bay Flat Rd., Porto Bodega; (707) 875-2278. A harbor-front local favorite for 40 years. Fish is a specialty, but chicken, beef and pasta are also offered, as well as local wines. Ambience: plain. Hearty breakfasts. Dinner entrees $13-$19.

Lucas Wharf, 595 Highway 1; (707) 875-3522. Family-owned waterfront restaurant with full bar, open kitchen and walls of windows overlooking the bay. Menu features locally caught fish (crab currently in season), pasta, steak. Dinner entrees $17-$26.

BIRD-WATCHING

Madrone Audubon Society bird walks, held year-round, are open to the public. Contact Lewis Edmondson, (707) 527-0225, for schedules.

TO LEARN MORE

Bodega Bay Visitors Center, 860 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923; (707) 875-3866, www.bodegabay.com.

Sonoma County Tourism Program, 520 Mendocino Ave., Suite 210, Santa Rosa, CA 95401; (707) 565-5383, fax (707) 565-5385, www.sonoma county.com.
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